ORICA-AIS looking to maximise their opportunity in the Pajot Hills Classic

Mon 28 Mar 2016

New to the UCI women's racing calendar for 2016 is Pajot Hills Classic, now a 1.2 category race taking place between two major WorldTour races- Gent-Wevelgem and Tour of Flanders.  

ORICA-AIS have had a strong start to the European season achieving top ten placings in each of the seven races they've competed in so far. With the addition of another one-day Belgian classic to the schedule, it gives the riders another chance to stretch their legs, get everything right on the day and workd towards the victory. 

Sport director Gene Bates is confident the ORICA-AIS team are close to achieving a win and that Wednesday's race is the perfect opportunity to do so.

"It would be great to finally get a win, we are definitely around the mark," Bates said. "The fact that we have had so many top ten finishes is a clear indication that we are right there knocking on the door. We just need to finish it off, which I think the girls are capable of doing and that's what we will be hoping for on Wednesday."

"The field for the race is basically the same as last weekend because of the timing of the event. We have a few fresh riders coming in - Rachel Neylan, Tayler Wiles and Katrin Garfoot, so for those girls it is all about having a great race and going for a good result.

"For the other girls who raced in Gent-Wevelgem on Sunday and are racing Flanders aswell, it's more about having another race and a good hit out mid-week. They can get more racing intensity in the legs and then really recover for Flanders."

Australian Chloe McConville was supposed to be lining up with the team on Wednesday, but due to injury the 28-year-old will miss out on the next few classic races.

"Chloe injured her back during training," Bates continued. "So unfortunately she will miss Wednesday's race and Flanders on Sunday. It's a shame not to have her as she has worked really hard to get here, so for her it's pretty frustrating. Once we are sure the problem has been fixed she will be back racing with the team."

After already achieving five top ten results in the seven races so far in the European season, Dutch rider Annemiek Van Vleuten is also confident a win and podium spot is close. Her consistent results in races over various terrains highlights her strength and early season form.

"I wasn't supposed to be racing on Wednesday," explained Van Vleuten. "Because Chloe is injured I had the chance to be in the team. I am happy I will now race as it's another opportunity to try for a result. I love to race these kinds of races and with this team." 

Rounding up the six rider squad is Australian champion Amanda Spratt and former Australian criterium champion Sarah Roy who bring strength and experience to the race.

Pajot Hills Classic takes place this Wednesday 30th March in Belgium.

ORICA-AIS riders in Pajot Hills Classic (30th March):

Katrin Garfoot (AUS, QLD, 34) 
Rachel Neylan (AUS, NSW, 33) 
Sarah Roy (AUS, NSW, 29) 
Amanda Spratt (AUS, NSW, 28)
Annemiek van Vleuten (NED, 33) 
Tayler Wiles (USA, 26)